I don't know much about the London band Is Tropical beyond that they were founded in 2009. Even their members' names are kept secret, and they appear in press photos masked. Nonetheless, they're responsible for some fantastic lo-fi dance music that is highly infectious. Their debut album is Native To, and "The Greeks" is their lead single. Is Tropical turned over production of an accompanying video to MEGAFORCE for development, and hold onto your butts because shit is about to get real.
In general, I immediately roll my eyes whenever music videos feature children. Sure, there are some great ones, Tori's "Raspberry Swirl," Metallica's "Unforgiven," and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Aeroplane" all come to mind.
Usually though, it's a transparent attempt at cute or vaguely creepy that just does not play off. It takes skill to get children to turn in a performance strong enough to carry an artistic video... and if you don't have that skill, why not just set everything on fire and blow it up?
"The Greeks" follows a neighborhood-wide war game fought between children using whatever toy guns and props were available. However, MEGAFORCE gives the audience a look into the horrors of savage youth's imagination by replacing that ptew! ptew! noise we all used to make with artistically rendered flames, bullets, and oceans upon oceans of blood.
If Zack Snyder made a movie about Joseph Kony, then "The Greeks" is exactly what he would turn in before Warner Bros. buried the footage in a vault hundreds of feet below Hollywood. In addition to its grisly but hilarious violence, I was also greatly impressed by the modernism of the children's play.
I'm probably one of the first of a generation that never played Cowboys and Indians growing up. The Old West was almost forgotten in living memory when I was born, and like most Texans I have a little Native American blood mixed in with the European extraction, so pitting the two sides against each other in an era of racial sensitivity just seems mean. Apparently MEGAFORCE feels the same way.
Their actors are playing Soldiers and Insurgents, DEA Officers and Drug Lords, Special Forces and Terrorists. The game sums up a world that is action-movie violent by forcing us to view the horrors through the misshapen exaggerations of kids.
It's not Lord of the Flies, it's just what children have always done. The difference is now what was simply in their heads can be painted across a quiet neighborhood in Day-Glo red while your heart pounds to the inexhaustible beat of Is Tropical's song.
"The Greeks" is one of the most innovative videos I've come across, and I'll be keeping an eye out on MEGAFORCE for more original work... and because people who are willing to pit children at war with each other are usually people you need to keep an eye on. Check out the video below.
MEGAFORCE was willing to answer a few questions through the magic of email. Click on over to page 2 for the interview.
Rocks Off: Did Is Tropical come up to you and say, "Children in a giant bloodbath! Get on it!" or was your personal vision?
MEGAFORCE: Well, kids play war around us all the time, so we thought it would be interesting to do a video that add what's happening in their mind, to get the full picture in a way. There isn't a particular message, we just like to question things. We play the disturbing fact that beyond its atrocity, war is exciting and childish.
RO: How do you think it matches up with the song?
M: We like the Western movie feeling on the intro and the mysterious lyrics, then we think it works well with the editing.
RO: Do you think this is what kids see in their heads while playing war games?
M: Only the ones who watched Akira, hehe. The other ones may see it differently but it's violent as well, I can assure you.
RO: There's a scene where everyone stops to come in and have lunch. I think it's amusing how even while everyone is eating together there is still this sense of violent competition. Isn't sitting down and having a meal more about coming together than just consuming more calories to kill with?
M: Well, not when you're a real warrior man.
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RO: Is it weird to put kids in a video that you probably shouldn't let them watch?
M: Of course they watched it! And with their parents. I think the video is more shocking for adults than for kids though, and I think it's a shame that it got +18 rated on YouTube. There are way more shocking stuffs on it, look what Justin Bieber does to our kids' taste!